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Tech Review: GoPro Hero5 Black

September 11, 2017

We are thrilled to announce that Emmy-winning DP, Jake Loskutoff, will occasionally be doing tech reviews for the Rantze + Raves blog! Below is his first review about the Gopro Hero5 Black.

I recently returned from a corporate gig in Bora Bora.  I know, rough life huh?  This shoot was going to be very run-and-gun so I needed an underwater camera that would be high quality, easy to setup and budget-friendly. So I did some digging. I had used GoPros in the past (my last one being the Hero2) and although they are always on set with me, I rarely depend on them for anything more than a gimmicky shot or two.  But looking over the SPECS on the newly-released Hero5 Black, I thought it was worth the small investment ($400 on AMAZON or B&H) so I gave it a shot. The camera stood up well, exceeding my expectations for both video and photos. Below is my detailed review and, while I won’t dig into the new frame rates or resolutions (because you can find all that fun stuff HERE), I will tell you that GoPro masterfully listened to its audience and took the best features from previous GoPro’s, sprinkled in some new twists, and produced the most convenient, durable and compact action camera I’ve gotten my hands on.

General Notes

No Housing, No problem!

The camera itself is waterproof, with a nice rubberized texture for added grip when shooting unmounted. This adds value to the camera because it makes it amazingly compact with better audio options and a new touch screen!  I’ll dive into the audio options later.  Now you may say the camera is bigger than the Hero4, and you’d be right, but without the housing, there is no comparison.

Voice Command

Why would someone want voice command?  Because sometimes you’re in a tough spot to hit the record button. Now, if you mount your GoPro in a way that makes it tough to reach the settings controls, you can simply tell it to record in 4k and start rolling. You can even command it to start a photo burst that you can post to Insta!

The Touch Screen

Maneuver around the menu with a user interface that allows you to quickly and easily change your camera’s settings.  The touchscreen is located on the back of the camera and it allows you to see in real time so you can preview how each function changes the camera settings and picture.

Battery Life

While it’s not a massive upgrade, the battery life on the Hero 5 Black is enough.  You’re more likely to run out of card space on your microSD before the camera dies, but even with GPS, stabilization and even the built in Wifi, your camera will run for over an hour!  Pretty impressive.

Video Mode

Image Stabilization

It actually works pretty well.  I used it while ice skating with a hockey team, and I was impressed with the stabilization.

While the stabilization is all done internally and is software based, it does require you to push in on the frame. So while in this mode you do lose about 10% of your frame and you can’t shoot in 4k or above 60fps.  Still, to remove some of the shake, this is a great add-on.

Audio Improvements

The dual microphones (and no additional housing) make the audio recording almost work.  While I still wouldn’t use this audio for much–if anything–in the broadcast world, you can get away with it for vlogs. Better yet, it makes syncing your real audio in post even easier.

Low Light mode

Like past models, this version still doesn’t perform well in low light situations, but what did you expect from a GoPro? If you need to shoot in low light and all you have is a GoPro, shame on you, not the manufacturer.

Photos

RAW

Let’s start with  the only important update to the photo mode of the Hero5 Black.  RAW!!!  Just like any other camera, you have way more flexibility in post with a Raw image than a compressed one, so this upgrade isn’t taken lightly.  While it’s still a GoPro so you shouldn’t expect to use it on your next product shoot, you can take it on that family vacation and feel comfortable shooting Sally as she kayaks down the Colorado River.

GPS

Why does the GoPro include locations? Geotag your photos of course.  Full disclosure, I haven’t yet used this feature. Not because I think it’s useless, I just haven’t had the opportunity.

Linear Mode

This mode takes out some of the wide-angle distortion and shoots pretty high quality photos for such a small camera.

HDR

I know you guys love your HDR shots on Instagram!  While they do have a place, HDR mode on the Hero5 Black is important because it allows greater details in the shadows of your shots, while still capturing the bright spots, too.

I tend to trust GoPro when it comes to the action camera market and the GoPro Hero5 Black is without question their best camera yet.  For my money, it’s the only action camera in my kit.  But if you disagree with me, I’d love to hear what you use and why you like it so much more than the Hero5 Black.  Shoot me a note through Insta, @jakeloskutoff.

Until the next one, have fun shooting!

photo by @jakeloskutoff

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